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Cheney Visits Saudi Arabia to Discuss Iraq, Iran

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, host:

Vice President Dick Cheney made a one-day visit to Saudi Arabia today to hold talks with King Abdullah on the growing problem in Iraq. The two leaders also discussed other troubled spots in the region, such as the Palestinian territories.

NPR's Peter Kenyon has more.

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PETER KENYON: Officials said the agenda for the meeting between Cheney and King Abdullah included what to do about the violence in Iraq that appears to be worsening week by week, how to deal with the political crisis in Lebanon that has the government on the edge of collapse, as well as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the question of Iran's nuclear ambitions. Iraq was seen as the top item on the agenda, primarily because this coming Wednesday, President Bush is scheduled to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

It's not clear what Maliki will gain from his meeting with Bush, due to take place in Amman, Jordan. It is clear what he could lose, the support of a key Shiite faction in the Iraqi government, the one loyal to the cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, which is threatening to walk out if Maliki goes ahead with the meeting.

In Cairo today, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal raised the specter of a third Palestinian Intifada. He said it could come in six months if there isn't progress towards a comprehensive peace agreement. Meshaal insisted that such an agreement would have to include Israel giving up all the land it has occupied since the 1967 War.

Peter Kenyon, NPR News, Cairo.

ELLIOTT: In a related development today, Israeli President Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have announced a ceasefire agreement in the Gaza Strip. Israel has mounted a series of raids and airstrikes there, which they maintain are to stop militants from firing rockets into Israel. The ceasefire is set to go into effect at 6:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, ending a five month conflict. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.